Saturn, in opposition, will shine on Friday night. Here's how to see it.

An image of Saturn’s rings taken in red light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Jan. 8, 2015.
Caption
An image of Saturn’s rings taken in red light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Jan. 8, 2015.

Stargazers, Friday is your lucky day.

Because of something called “opposition,” there is a good chance even the most casual astronomer will be able to spot the planet Saturn in the night sky.

What's taking place that allows you to see the ringed planet up close -- at least in terms of the universe? Here’s a quick explanation.

Why will we be able to see Saturn?

Saturn will move into what is called opposition – which  means it and the sun are on opposite sides of the sky when viewed from Earth.

Why does opposition make it easier to see Saturn? 

It’s easier for two reasons – one, Saturn will be the closest it comes to Earth (only 840 million miles); and two, the planet will appear brighter in the sky because the sun is shining directly on it.

Do I need a telescope to see the planet?

No, you don’t. However, if you want to see the rings of Saturn, you’ll need one. Space.com suggests a telescope with 25 times magnification to see the rings which will be pointed toward Earth. Saturn is the farthest planet that you can easily view with the naked eye alone.

How do I find it in the sky?

First, locate Mars in the southeastern sky. If you know constellations, it will be near Scorpius. If you don’t, look to the southeast and try to spot the very bright reddish-colored light. The light will not be twinkling, but be a steady red color. That's Mars.

Then, look to the left of Mars. You should see a bright golden-colored light – again not twinkling. That’s Saturn. Here's a NASA film that may help.

When is the best hour to see it?

Good news here, you should be able to see it as the sun sets all the way until sunrise on Saturday.

Is Friday my only chance to catch it?

No, you'll be able to see it for the next few weeks, according to NASA.

What if I can’t get outside, or if I can’t find it in the sky?

Internet to the rescue. Check out the live stream of the opposition here.